What to Expect in 2013: Right Handed Starting Pitchers (Kids Edition)

The Phillies have always liked drafting projectable right handed pitchers with prototypical power pitcher builds.  The strategy has had mixed success but it leaves the low minors full of arms with plenty of potential but years and years of development in front of them.  In 2012 the Phillies added two more arms with plenty of pedigree with their two supplemental first round picks.  If a pitcher has more than a fastball he is ahead of the curve for the most part, and for many pitchers they are far away from their final arm strength and velocity.

I have kept these players separate from the more polished arms because they are at a very different part of their developmental process where they are transitioning from raw arms to pitchers.  Many of them will not make it past Lakewood, others are destined for the bullpen, and just maybe there are some solid starters in this group which will emerge.

As always please read gregg’s end of season report cards for the upper and lower minors.

The Kids

Shane Watson (19) – Watson was the Phillies first pick in the 2012 draft.  Watson made a brief debut in the GCL, but his season was cut off by by a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.  Watson’s fastball sits in the low-90s but he has run it up as high as 96 in high school.  Watson’s best pitch is a plus curveball that has tight sharp movement.  Watson has shown a changeup but it is still developing at this point and he has tinkered with a cutter.  As with most high school pitchers Watson’s command could use some fine-tuning.  Watson is advanced enough that he could handle a promotion to a full year at Lakewood.

Mitch Gueller (19) – the Phillies other supplemental first round pick Gueller has received grief for a poor 2012 GCL debut where he didn’t miss bats and looked ordinary.  Gueller was raw coming out of high school equally thought of as a hitter and pitcher.  On the mound Gueller sits 93-94 but can touch 96, and has a slider and changeup that are inconsistent at best but both flash plus potential.  Gueller has evoked physical and stuff comparisons to former Phillies prospect and Washingtonian Trevor May.  However, Gueller is a superior athlete, who will need some tweaking in his delivery which will help his command, but his athleticism should allow him to hold his delivery and velocity deep into games.  Gueller has #2 upside and has slightly more upside overall than Watson due to the athletic ability, however, Gueller is still raw and despite the Phillies encouragement at the adjustments he has made he will be a work in progress.  How he pitches in camp will determine whether the Phillies send him to Lakewood as they have with former early high school pitchers or if they hold him back for Williamsport.

Jesen Dygestile-Therrien (19) – JDT was raw when drafted in 2011, and he has not made the leap to solid starter yet.  He has loose easy motions and a fastball in the low 90s.  There is not much else on JDT, but he is young enough that he could go to Williamsport in 2013 without being behind developmentally.

Kevin Walter (20) – One of three overslot signees at the 2010 draft deadline Walter has yet to stay healthy.  He has only pitched 13 innings over 3 years to this point.  When he was drafted his fastball touched 93 and he had the frame to add to that.  It remains to be seen if Walter will even have much of a run in the Phillies minor league system.

Marek Minarik (19) –  Minarek was signed out of the Czech Republic in 2010 has a large (6′ 7″) projectable (only 195lbs) 16 year old right handed pitcher.  Minarik made his stateside debut in 2011 but has only pitched a total of 20 innings for the Phillies (he did pitch for the Czech Republic in WBC qualifiers).  As a 17 year old Minarik was touching 91 with plenty of room for more, which he paired with a developing changeup and curveball.  Minarik will likely go to Williamsport after spending time in Extended Spring Training.

Josh Warner (20) – Warner was an international signing out of Australia.  He made a poor debut in 2011 giving up 72 hits in 54.2 IP, but the Phillies sent him to Lakewood for two starts in early 2012 before sending him to Williamsport.  Warner does not walk many batters but he also does not strikeout many.  Warner’s fastball sits in the hi 80s but can touch 92, he also has a good sweeping breaking ball and a solid changeup.  Warner has the frame to add more velocity but he is no longer a projectable 17 year old, if he maintains his current stuff he will need to develop his control and changeup to profile as a starting pitcher long term.

Manaure Martinez (21 on Dec 31) – Martinez impressed in the VSL in 2011 showing a live arm with a sharp breaking ball.  The Phillies brought him over to the GCL in 2012 and he was dominant over 7 starts (37.0 IP) with a 2.43 ERA and 41Ks and only 11BBs.  He was then promoted to Williamsport where he struggled as his walk rate rose and his strikeout rate decreased.  Martinez has a live arm with a fastball with two seam run that tops out at 95-96, a sharp slider, and a developing changeup.  Martinez will go to Lakewood where he will have to show results closer to his GCL time.

Richard Bielski (18) – Bielski is a very young 18 (turned 18 in Oct) and another raw and projectable pitcher.  His fastball has been clocked as high as 94 in high school.  Bielski is a pure arm strength lottery ticket and will definitely spend time in Extended Spring Training where a special performance might get him to Williamsport but another year in the GCL will not be a bad thing for him.

Jonathan Musser (21) – Another late overslot bonus from the 2010, Musser was a projectable right hander who fell down draft boards due to injury.  Musser has a low 90s fastball, but his secondary stuff is still a work in progress.  Musser has been terrible as a pro with ERAs above 6 in both 2011 and 2012 as well as a BB/9 above 5.  Musser will have to show large improvement to continue with the organization through the 2013 season.

Yacksel Rios (19) – Another pure arm strength guy, Rios was a third baseman prior to the draft and the Phillies picked him on the strength of a fastball that touched 93 in short spurts and a projectable 6’4″ frame.  Rios is extremely raw and will need to start being more than an arm to stick in the organization.  He will need to prove enough in Extended Spring Training to go to Williamsport, he could be a bullpen arm if the secondary stuff does not come around but expect him to get starts to get innings to work on his consistency.

Questions:

How good are Watson and Gueller?

Which Manaure Martinez is for real?

You could say the rest of the guys are questions of their own.

A big thanks to Mitch Rupert for scouting and velocity reports on the Williamsport pitchers (follow him at @Mitch_Rupert if you do not already)

About Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has previously appeared on Phuture Phillies and The Good Phight. You can read his work at Phillies Minor Thoughts

46 thoughts on “What to Expect in 2013: Right Handed Starting Pitchers (Kids Edition)

  1. Before the hardcore trolls show up, here’s your obligatory when is Gueller moving to the OF comment… you’re welcome

    1. Well, Gueller should at least have the arm for the outfield.

      Laser beam straight and lifeless is a positive attribute for an outfielders arm.

  2. People seem to be overly excited about these guys. I a little excited by Martinez but am otherwise in “wait and see” mode with these prospects since we have several pitchers who are now advanced prospect and are more likely to achieve the very distant ceilings projected for the top two or three of this prospect group. I am not saying there’s no potential here, just that it doesn’t get me excited right now. If any start developing ace potential or really start moving, then I’ll pay more attention – for now I’m much more interested relievers at the major league level and the really solid group of starter prospects – both lefty and righty – in AA and AAA.

    1. Understandable that there would be more interest in the guys in the higher minors, but we’ve seen how quickly guys in this portion of the system can get some buzz going. If Watson or Gueller goes to Lakewood next year and does really well they’ll have a lot of eyes on them.

      1. You think Gueller is ready to rake at Lakewood?

        Seems to me he would need time in instructional league before going to either GCL or Williamsport. Needs to get busy with a bat though.

    1. Missed him, will have that up shortly

      EDIT: Added a short blurb, I didn’t realize how horrible he has been over the past two years.

    2. Brad I was thinking the same thing. Those 3 “over slot guys” we got (Musser, Pointer, Walter) seem to have my attention for some reason. Hope we get to see Musser and Walter for an extended period this season.

  3. I’ve seen Manaure a few times. He could be Gio or he could be Bastardo or something in between. His stuff is for real if he can improve on his command.

    1. How is he anything like Gio or Bastardo, two lefties who have that traditional 3/4 lefty delivery, when he is a righty? Not trying to be quarrelsome, I’m just asking.

    1. Adding him, it is really hard to keep track of the GCL guys as who is a starter and who is a non-prospect, so many arms it can be hard to pick the guys out.

      1. Keivi Rojas was used as a bullpen guy in GCL but he often got multiple innings in his outings, does this means they might think of trying him as a starter? Also I love Keivi Rojas.

        1. It is hard to tell in the GCL as they are just trying to get innings to everyone, Rojas is definitely a live arm who had some impressive strikeout numbers with good command, I will address him more along with all the other GCL guys who weren’t getting starts ithe reliever piece.

          Please anyone who has personal favorites that are left out of discussion continue to bring them up, there are close to 200 players in the minor league system, sometime guys get lost in the shuffle. I will try to find as much information as I can on them to bring back to the discussion.

    1. He hasn’t pitched since 2010, Baseball America has him as still on the team, but injured for the past two years. Maybe he resurfaces in Spring Training, there is absolutely nothing on him between his signing and debut and now.

  4. I’m kind of high on JD Therrien. The video I’ve seen of him makes me believe he has some potential. He doesn’t have that violent motion that some young pitchers have, who throw in the 90s. Not sure why they used him out of the bullpen so much last year. Seems they would try to develope his pitches as a starter.

    1. Yoel Mecias. He is a lefty so expect him in the next report, there are actually quite a few live armed lefties in the Phillies minor league system

  5. It seems like few of these ‘lottery ticket’ guys have made any progress. Unlike Trevor May, who was a Top150 pick, all these guys are more late round and low bonus international signings.

    It would be nice if one of them turns into a useful starter. The Clearwater rotation looks pretty bleak. Any idea if Phillies move Rosin to a starter?

    1. I doubt it, Clearwater rotation shouldn’t be that bleak, I would say right now it would project as:
      Kevin Brady
      Hoby Milner
      Ethan Stewart
      Lino Martinez
      Colin Kleven
      The two college guys are very intriguing arms and the other three aren’t great prospects but they aren’t just org filler.

      That being said this whole section is lottery tickets in general, the two guys too be really excited about are the ones that top the list in Watson and Gueller.

      1. Cool thanks. I had Brady in LWD with Walter in CLW, but I agree with Brady moving up.
        Do agree that both college guys could get to the majors as starters and they other 3 are not bad, but it as a huge gap from the ‘baby aces’ to this group where the upside is quite limited.

      2. I think Lino will repeat LWood, he got crushed there and he’s still young, and I also think Brady will start at LWood but you might be right with him. I have Rosin and Garner starting in CWater with Milner, Stewart and Kleven. If Garner returns as a starter, and I think he will for innings, I think it will still be in CWater as he’s not ready for AA. Watson and Gueller are certainly the big names on this “young” list.

        1. I like Brady in Clearwater to start the season. He’s old enough and showed enough in Williamsport to make the double jump, especially with Joe Jordan seeming to like challenging college guys a little bit. I was a bit disappointed in Brady’s velocity over the summer (sat 90-91) most of the time, but he hides the ball and then it seems to jump out of his hand. I think Clearwater is a good spot for him.

    2. “late round and low bonus international signings”

      This has long been a feature of the Phillies farm system. They signed Chooch for a new pair of shoes and a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

  6. Really excited to see what Gueller and Watson do, really like their stuff based on the scouting reports I’ve read… Especially Watson, that video footage of his curveball looked absolutely filthy.

    Not overly concerned about the lack of k’s in the GCL as it relates to Gueller. I took a look at Syndergaard’s numbers in the GCL and he had a k/9 of 4.0 (although granted, it was in half as many innings)

  7. Don’t get hung up on numbers at the lower levels, They pretty much let them fail and then build them back up in their idea of what is best for their abilities. I try to find as much film as I can.

  8. I just got excited about Watson and Gueller. The last time the Phillies drafted a pitcher in the first who did not get at least get a cup of coffee in the majors was 1975 when they drafted HS RHP Sammye Welborn in the 12th round. Last year Joe Savery became the 15th consecutive Phillies first round draft pick pitcher to make it to the big leagues. I found that success rate surprising and (having read Moneyball) I was even more surprised to learn that nine of the 15 were drafted out of high school! They were Munninghoff, Abrego, Pete Smith, Coggin, Eaton, Myers, Floyd, Hamels, and Drabek. Biddle seems destined to bring the overall streak up to 16 and the HS streak up to 10. The last 9 HS first-rounders have been significantly better than the last 6 college first rounders (Brink, Combs, Green, Gomes, Loewer, Savery). Optimistically, based on this over 30 year history, I would say the floors of Watson and Gueller are #5s and their ceilings are #1s and they both have realistic chances of becoming #3s.

    1. One problem (of many) with my logic is that both Gueller and Watson were at least 10 picks later than any other first round or supplementary first round pick. Coggin was the lowest of the 15 in a row, at #30 in the 1995 supplemental 1st round. All the others were among the first 23 picks in the draft. In contrast, Watson was #40 and Gueller was #54. But, stupidly optimistic or not, it is fun to note the 15 in a row trend and assume it will extend to 18 with Watson, Gueller, and Biddle.

      1. Something else to think about.. Watson graduated from Lakewood HS.. the same school as Travis d’Arnaud.. a rival to Millikan HS which is Jonathan Singleton’s alma mater.. and just down the road from Bellflower HS where Anthony Gose went.. which Watson also attended before transferring to Lakewood..

    2. ‘Made it to the majors’ is a poor measure of the success of the draft pick. Having a cup of coffee or not having one, a la Savery really matters not at all. Abrego, Munninghof, Brink might as well not have reached the majors.

      1. Savery getting to the majors does matter for keeping the two and a half decade streak alive. This mostly just a fun fact, but I want the streak started in 1977 to keep going. Brink and Savery were college pitchers though. The streak of 9 high school first round pitchers not getting hurt and progressing all the way to the majors is more impressive. than the overall streak

  9. Matt, great write-up here, thanks for all your work. As I read down the list, I was expecting to see Franklyn Vargas. Will he be on a different list or do you not feel he is someone worth following?

    Thanks.

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